The Highlights of the McCain-Tester-Childers Bill

Photo courtesy of
‘Herbert George Ponting and telephoto apparatus, Antarctica, January 1912’
courtesy of ‘National Library NZ on The Commons’

This afternoon, Eleanor Holmes Norton released the specifics of the McCain-Tester Bill designed to make it much easier to acquire and carry a firearm in the District. The bill’s provisions include:

  • Concealed carry for all residents.
  • City may regulate, but not outright prohibit, the carrying of guns in public.
  • Repeals the ban on assault weapons, including .50 cal weapons.
  • Prohibits property owners from banning tenants from having guns on premises.
  • Prevents the District from making changes to its gun laws henceforth
  • Repeals prohibition of 10+ round magazines.
  • Repeals the Registration requirements.
  • Repeals prohibition against certain categories of firearm owners, including the mentally ill.
  • Repeals requirement for gun training.
  • May permit sales between individuals without background checks.
  • Repeals design safety standards.
  • Repeals requirement for ballistics testing.
  • Reduces penalties if a child is injured by a negligently stored weapon.

Feel safer yet?

I live and work in the District of Columbia. I write at We Love DC, a blog I helped start, I work at Technolutionary, a company I helped start, and I’m happy doing both. I enjoy watching baseball, cooking, and gardening. I grow a mean pepper, keep a clean scorebook, and wash the dishes when I’m done. Read Why I Love DC.

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12 thoughts on “The Highlights of the McCain-Tester-Childers Bill

  1. If these provisions make some people feel less safe, how do they feel when they take the short walk across the river to Virginia?

  2. Even in Virginia they’re trying to make it harder for the mentally ill to get guns, and you have to have training before you can get a concealed carry permit. I’m a fan of gun rights in general, but that doesn’t mean I think all these provisions are a good idea.

  3. I’m assuming that repealing outright prohibitions against certain categories would default it to the federal standard. These categories happen to include the mentally ill, along with people that wear their pants inside out and those that squeeze toothpaste from the middle of the tube instead of the bottom.

    As far as I know, there is nothing in this bill that repeals the requirement for a permit in order to have concealed carry. Arizona made the news by scrapping their permit requirements for concealed carry precisely because it was seen as so outlandish.

  4. F**k McCain, f**k Tester, and f**k the NRA.

    Gun nuts whine that we shouldn’t have this law or that law because “criminals don’t obey the laws.” If you follow that line of reasoning, we shouldn’t have traffic laws either because people will always speed, run through lights, not yield the right of way, etc.

    The reason why “criminals can always get guns” is because the NRA and its shills MAKE THE LAWS IMPOSSIBLE TO ENFORCE IN THE FIRST PLACE. No background checks on gun sales? Sure, so any criminal can easily buy a weapon. No design standards on guns? Sure, so two-year-olds can pull the trigger. And guess what? When your five-year-old shoots his brother, you won’t get penalized for leaving the damn gun around within easy reach!

    The gun nuts have no interest in preventing gun crimes, suicides, and accidents. They believe that people should be punished only AFTER someone is dead or injured. F**k them all.

  5. @Banksy,

    Did you know that in Mexico it is illegal for people to own guns? Yet somehow the drug lords have gotten their hands on fully-automatic AK-47s and other military grade hardware. So where’d they get those from, cause the NRA sure as hell doesn’t work in Mexico.

    And you are 100% wrong that “gun nuts” have no interest in preventing gun crimes, suicides, or accidents. One of the main reasons people in urban areas get a gun is to prevent someone committing a gun crime (or any other crime) against them. Everyday people attempt or commit suicide without needing a gun, just take out a kitchen knife and start cutting, or jump off a bridge into interstate traffic, none of those need a gun. As anyone who owns a gun should know to store it safely and unloaded. If there is someone who has kids and any firearm and doesn’t store it safely will face the consequences. It’s really not that hard to keep the ammo locked away separately and more importantly to teach your children how to treat a gun safely.

  6. Regardless of anyone’s stance on gun control, our laws are something WE should create, NOT old white men living over 2,000 miles away from our city. What works in Montana, does not work in DC. The District’s residents should all be fighting for our right to create our own laws – including our own gun laws. In case anyone wants to email McCain and Tester and tell them to govern their own states and stop trying to dictate our city’s laws!

  7. Yes, because guns don’t know borders. Duh. Those Mexican drug lords GET THEIR GUNS FROM US — as in the U.S. In fact the NRA goes to international small-arms meetings so that they can stop *other countries’* attempts to regulate the international weapons trade.

    The NRA — and to a large extent, movies and TV — feed the myth that guns make you safer. I’m not saying it never happens, but the incidence of guns being used legitimately in self-defense by civilians is negligible compared to the incidence of crimes committed with guns.

    Besides, if someone needs a gun for self-defense, what’s wrong with checking to make sure that the person isn’t a fugitive from the law or a stalker that has a restraining order against them? And what’s wrong with making sure that that person knows how to use and store the gun properly, and what the laws are governing its use?

    Those reasonable laws are the type that this McCain-Tester bill are trying to prevent D.C. from having, and are the types of laws that the NRA works against ALL THE TIME.

    Your suicide argument is just plain stupid. Sure people can kill themselves in other ways, but doing it with a gun is a lot more common — and effective. Check out this article from the New England Journal of Medicine from 2008 (

    “In 2005, the most recent year for which mortality data are available, suicide was the second-leading cause of death among Americans 40 years of age or younger. Among Americans of all ages, more than half of all suicides are gun suicides. In 2005, an average of 46 Americans per day committed suicide with a firearm, accounting for 53% of all completed suicides.”


    “Why might the availability of firearms increase the risk of suicide in the United States? First, many suicidal acts — one third to four fifths of all suicide attempts, according to studies — are impulsive. Among people who made near-lethal suicide attempts, for example, 24% took less than 5 minutes between the decision to kill themselves and the actual attempt, and 70% took less than 1 hour.”


    “Third, guns are common in the United States (more than one third of U.S. households contain a firearm) and are lethal. A suicide attempt with a firearm rarely affords a second chance. Attempts involving drugs or cutting, which account for more than 90% of all suicidal acts, prove fatal far less often.”

    As for your last point about gun storage and parental responsibility, the McCain-Tester bill REDUCES the penalties for improperly stored firearms. Does that mean you oppose at least that provision of it?

    You claim that “It’s really not that hard…to teach your children how to treat a gun safely.” Teaching children is one thing; expecting kids to exercise control and good judgment is another. Teaching kids how to “treat a gun safely” gives parents a false sense of security and shouldn’t absolve the parents of their responsibility to keep the gun out of the hands of their kids.

    By weakening child-access laws, the gun lobby expects children to be responsible enough not to touch or play with guns and but doesn’t expect parents to be responsible enough to make sure their guns are safely stored.

    The two boys (11 and 13) in the Jonesboro, Arkansas school shooting knew how to “treat” guns all too well. When they got a hold of their grandfather’s weapons, they managed to kill 5 people and wound 10 others.

    If guns made us safer, we’d already be the safest country in the world — and we’re not.

  8. Sorry, I failed to note that my previous long-winded comment was directed to elliotte.

  9. Yeah, cause you can just get automatic AK-47s and grenades in the US. Please show me where you can get those. Most of their weapons are either stolen from the Mexican military or bought from bribed officials, not acquired in the US.

    Guns are used 2.5 million times a year in self-defense. Law-abiding citizens use guns to defend themselves against criminals as many as 2.5 million times every year—or about 6,850 times a day.
    -Taken from Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz, “Armed Resistance to Crime: The Prevalence and Nature of Self-Defense With a Gun,” 86 The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, Northwestern University School of Law, 1 (Fall 1995):164.

    This means that each year, firearms are used more than 80 times more often to protect the lives of honest citizens than to take lives.
    -Taken from the National Safety Council, the total number of gun deaths (by accidents, suicides and homicides) account for less than 30,000 deaths per year. See Injury Facts, published yearly by the National Safety Council, Itasca, Illinois.

    Here’s an interesting fact for you, maybe we should outlaw football. Twice as many children are killed playing football in school than are murdered by guns. That’s right. Despite what media coverage might seem to indicate, there are more deaths related to high school football than guns. In a recent three year period, twice as many football players died from hits to the head, heat stroke, etc. (45), as compared with students who were murdered by firearms (22) during that same time period.
    -For football deaths, see Frederick O. Mueller, Annual Survey of Football Injury Research: 1931-2001, National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research (February 2002) at For school firearms murders, see Dr. Ronald D. Stephens, “School Associated Violent Deaths,” The National School Safety Center Report (June 3, 2002) at In addition to the 22 murders which occurred on school property or at school-sponsored events, there were another two shooting deaths which were accidents and twelve which were suicides.

  10. Did anyone notice that the picture in the post is actually of a telephoto camera?

  11. @elliotte

    Hahahaha! I can’t believe you quoted those ridiculous Kleck numbers! Kleck’s shoddy “study” violated basic tenets of standard research methodology (see Hemenway’s take-down of Kleck in the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, vol. 87, 1997).

    Two examples of how badly flawed Kleck’s study is:

    1. When Kleck asked people if they’ve used a gun in self-defense in the past year, he didn’t bother to control for fundamental flaws in self-reported incidents, such as the subjective perspective on the part of the respondents. If Person A threatened to punch Person B and B pulled out a gun, B call it using a gun in self-defense. But what if A pulled out a gun in response to B’s gun? Wouldn’t A — the one who threatened to punch B in the first place — be able to claim to have used the gun in self-defense, too? According to Kleck’s methodology, that’s a two-fer!

    If Person A threatens to key Person B’s car, and B brandishes a gun to scare A away, some people might think that’s a “self-defense” use of a gun and report it that way. Others (more sane people) might call it an overreaction or an escalation of violence.

    2. According to Kleck, guns used in self-defense kill or wound the criminal 207,000 times per year. But only about 100,000 people are treated for firearm injuries each year (at the time Hemenway’s rebuttal was written), and almost all of them are crime VICTIMS, suicide attempts, and accidental shootings, not than criminals shot by defenders.

    Kleck’s survey is laughable to anyone with a basic knowledge of survey methodology.

    I noticed that your lame analogy between guns and football selectively uses only MURDERS at first. And are those only murders committed on school grounds or at school events? Because, when you include accidental shootings and suicides, you use the “on school property or at school-sponsored events” qualifier. How conveeeenient.

    In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2006 alone, 638 kids ages 0-15 died from guns. Wanna use your time period? Okay, in 1999, 2000, and 2001 (the most “recent” three-year time period that can be covered by the 1931-2001 study you cite), 2,029 kids were killed by guns.

    I don’t know of many kids who were murdered by football or committed suicide by playing football.